Army vet and marijuana supporter wins election as mayor
As Jeremiah Looney spoke at a marijuana march in Fort Worth earlier this month, he felt confident that later in the evening the election results for his mayoral campaign would come back positive. He is now mayor of Whitewright, Texas.
For a speaker at one of these events to go on and win public office in Texas, that’s a rare feat and Jeremiah is likely the first to do so. He won’t be the last though as minds are changing on the subject of cannabis laws.
Nearly three-quarters of Texans are supportive of some type of reform on the matter, whether it be medical cannabis, penalty reduction, or outright legalization.
Whitewright is a town of just over 1,600 residents right near the Oklahoma border, almost directly north of Dallas. The people there seemingly had little issue with electing a open supporter of cannabis to the highest position in their community.
“I feel amazing about this. The citizens here knew we needed change and they used their voices. It meant so much to me that they were able to see past the cannabis and accept it as medicine. We had our biggest voter turnout and I won pretty soundly.”
Jeremiah, who consumes cannabis in a medicinal capacity to help with his PTSD sustained during two tours in Iraq with the Army from 2002 to 2007, garnered 175 of the 310 votes cast in a 3-way race.
“The VA was giving me upwards of 30 pills a day like Methadone, OxyContin, hydrocodone, seroquel, risperadone, Zoloft, flexeril. I was a zombie. I couldn’t get off the couch and out of the house. My life stopped and I gave a decade of my life to the pills.”
That changed when he found cannabis, as many other veterans have, to be a much better alternative.
Asked why he ran for office, Jeremiah says that the citizens had lost their voice and business owners were unhappy. He says he lost his own voice during his time under the VA’s care.
The town was once thriving but recently the spark has gone, which Jeremiah attributes to the former mayor.
Whitewright’s downtown has suffered due to what Jeremiah says are regulations making it hard for businesses to move in or operate.
He also laments that fact that a local grocery store was shut down under the previous administration when a Walmart set up shop. It closed less than a year later though, leaving residents with a 60-mile round trip to buy groceries.
“We have to get someone like ALDI or Brookshires here fast.”
One of his first priorities is looking into what may possibly be corruption by two current city officials.
“We have had many questions raised about our budget and two unusually high city employee salaries. We will be getting an independent audit.”
As for the economy, he hopes to work with local business owners to make the town flourish again.
“We can get more businesses in here and just try to get this town turned around so we can get the roads fixed and get back to what we used to be, I want to get all that back and really focus on community because that’s not what is being focused on right now.”
He also wants to bring back trade days, which used to bring in a lot of people from outside town. A few years ago rates were raised which essentially priced vendors out. This has led to a decrease in business for local shops and has killed social events.
Jeremiah is confident the majority of city council will work with him to get the town running well again. “We are going to be able to do some good things soon.”
When he isn’t serving as mayor, Jeremiah attends school at Collin County Community College and also coaches his daughter’s basketball and softball teams.
And if you decide to run for office in your town while openly supporting cannabis? “Have a thick skin and know that you’re on the right moral side of the issue.”
He also says that you have to step up your game.
“You cannot be part of the stereotype. You have to exceed expectations to really show people it doesn’t matter.”